Kim's Reviews > This Book Will Save Your Life

This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes
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's review
Jun 22, 09

bookshelves: contemporary, holy-shit, gr-friend-recommendations
Recommended to Kim by: Thank you, Michelle
Recommended for: most cynics
Read in March, 2009

You know, most days I sit around being angry. I’m in the car, I’m doing dishes, I’m waiting at the dentist (25 minutes after my scheduled appointment time.) and the thing is I’m not really conscious of it. It’s just there. It might present itself in my clenched jaw or that weird stabbing that runs right through my chest and out my back (I’ve been meaning to get that checked out, btw.)

So, I’ve been trying to analyze this. It’s like I’m mad about the ‘what might have beens’, or I’m mad that I’m such a wuss about taking chances. Mostly I’m just mad.
Where’s that whole quality of life thing fit in, anyway?

So, when I picked up this book I wasn’t really sure what I was going to get. I honestly thought it might be one of those self help books, sort of in the vein of Fast Food Nation--something that would try to get me to change my wicked, wicked ways. That’s a pretty cynical outlook---I think I need more help than I originally thought.


I loved this book. I loved every single character in this book. From Anhil, the existentialist donut man, to the overworked ex-wife (she who shall not be named, I guess), to misguided, sweet Ben, to the misunderstood, sweet Nic, to Cynthia---who I can so relate to---but most of all, I love Richard.

Richard is that guy. That person that you sort of hope to be. He’s far, far from perfect, basically a fuckup. After a somewhat traumatic event, he, like most people -- I assume, starts to analyze his life and through a series of incredible events, you start to see his goodness. That thing that people think that they might be capable of, but either because they’re not presented with the situations or because they’re conscious of being ‘good’ then, well, it’s less real, right?

Yeah, I don’t expect you to get it. I’m still sorting it out.

Okay, do you ever get that feeling? That sense of… oh, I can’t find the right words, I can only describe it as a warm fuzzy. It’s this sense of childish hope, that people ARE good---and not good like someone letting you cut in line at the grocery store because you have 2 items to their 20 or someone following the correct etiquette of ‘merging into traffic’, but have you experienced true goodness? I have. I know I have. I’ve remembered coming home and being so excited to retell the story of something that renewed my faith in mankind. I remember grinning, not just smiling or smirking but full on ear-to-ear, pearly whites, make your face hurt, grinning.

Of course I can’t even give you one example of that kind of warm fuzzy.

Isn’t that telling? Hmmm…

So, Richard embarks on this crazy, sometimes too surreal to be true, but maybe it can be, sort of journey. And he becomes The Good Samaritan, The Good Neighbor, The Anonymous Benefactor. He’s the kind of guy I would hope to be if money were never an issue.

Yet, through all this you see him struggle with himself. His fear of dying, of not being a better son, brother, husband, father. This is what makes me just want to be in his presence, like maybe I’d catch some of what he is. I’d be tempted to use the word ‘aura’ but it might just be the Californian influence within the book, This is what made me hate to see the book end.

Bittersweet? Does that work? Hell, I’m going to throw it out there.

There’s this great scene towards the end. Richard takes his 17 yr. old estranged son to DisneyLand. You can see that Ben is fighting something, trying to recapture some sense of his lost childhood. He’s fighting with his father, yelling at him while riding the teacups or waiting for Space Mountain and Richard is taking it, feeling like he deserves it. Ben’s trying to work out all these emotions, worried about an expiration date or something---afraid to see this day end. And there’s this scene:

They get in line for the driving ride. You must be at least three years old and so high to go on this ride.

“Aren’t we a little old?”

“How can we be too old? We never did it before,” Ben says.

I love this sentiment. It brings tears to my eyes and gives me that hope that someday that warm fuzzy will be more than a passing flicker. Or at least that I’ll be able to recall it next time.

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Reading Progress

02/23/2009 page 176
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Comments (showing 1-11)

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message 11: by Shelly (new)

Shelly mmm donuts.

I don't get the blurb on the cover--I expect to get pleasure from donuts. Doesn't everyone?

What's this book about, anyway?

message 10: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim I thought it was a self help book, Shelly. Because you know a freaky Californian recommended it to me. One of those that likes Yoga and the sun? Yeah. But, it's fairly awesome. My cover is different though. I need to find it.

message 9: by Shelly (new)

Shelly Wow. That cover is a lot less tempting than the donut one. So, it's not about aligning your chakras and cleansing with wheat grass juice and minimizing your carbon foot-print? Hmmm. I didn't realize they were interested in anything else in California. Good to know.

message 8: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Oh, it is about all that, Shelly... it is.... but, you know...with donuts.

message 7: by Michelle (last edited Feb 26, 2009 11:26AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michelle Heyyyyy, I just saw these comments! We're interested in a lot more than aligning chakras and the benefits of wheat grass juice.

We also love Botox, anal bleaching, and breast implants.
: )

Kim, I hope you're loving this book. You owe me after your scathing review of Disgrace.

Michelle Yes, yes, yes! I loved your review!

I loved this book sooo much.

Books Ring Mah Bell message 5:

Great Review, Kimtastic!
I'll have to add this to my list.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Angry Kimmy!

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message 3: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Kelley I don't think of myself as someone who is in search of the warm fuzzy, but I definitely don't find it often. I'm what I like to call a good mixture of fatalist and realist, with a tiny bit of idealist sprinkled in. I know the world needs saving, and I do my part with/for my students (I hope) to make that known, but I also know it can never be saved. Does that make sense?

I guess what I'm TRYING to say is that I'm on your wavelength. I get it.

So maybe this book is something I ought to pick up...

message 2: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Lauren, I think it's refreshing.. and I'm really really cynical. Maybe it caught me on a good day. I'd definitely recommend it!!

message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Wow, thank you, Emily! I appreciate that!

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